From about the time I was twelve, maybe a little earlier, I had an interest in current events and news. By the time I was 13, I wanted nothing more than to be a news reporter when I “grew up.” Hard news, print news, that century-old medium that drove the information of the world.
I’d always loved cameras and taking photos. When I was 10, for Christmas I was given a Kodak disc camera, right before my family relocated to Germany (mid 1980s, dad was military) for five years. It was an amazing way to document where we went and what we did.
In seventh grade, I was in a current events class, instead of routine social studies. I loved when we delved into political cartoons. Pat Oliphant became an idol. It was also the year we bombed Libya. Global events impacted my life on a routine basis. Anti-nukes protesters on the outskirts of the base, high-alert security checks, that was “normal” for me and my friends.
And then in eighth grade a teacher told me I’d never be a writer, never work in news. I had her for two classes in middle school, a program for advanced students where we produced the school yearbook, and I was able to opt-out of eighth grade English and into the newspaper class. In a system-wide competition, I essentially smoked her favorite student in a photography contest. Instead of spending months on the project, I threw it together in a weekend.
Fast-forward to a new school, back in the states. I joined the newspaper staff, eventually became the editor. I was mentored in high school by the local paper’s top reporter. Won journalism awards, scholarships, went to college and did the same. I interned three out of four summers between school years at the local newspapers.
When I graduated, I had a job, unlike many of my peers. I reveled in it, covering everything from state cabinet meetings concerning development of conservation lands, to wine festivals, and school board budget meetings. I was an AP stringer for elections back in the day when cell phones were truly for emergencies only, calling in hourly with results to an 800#.
Then life got in the way, I guess. I met someone, moved to new jobs, and eventually burned out on crime beats. The first day on a new job, and the editor called me to send me to a quintuple homicide. You can only take so many 3 a.m. pages to a scene where some clown beat his girlfriend’s kid to death, or listen to a finite number of fatal car wreck call outs on the scanner.
Or I told myself that.
I let outside voices tell me I wasn’t good enough, other things were more important. I tried copywriting for marketing companies, editing procedure manuals, feature magazine work. It never filled the void, and I kept hearing “you’ve lost your touch.”
I tried my hand at my other love, photography. I was told by most folks I excelled at it. Particularly with families and children. That other voice kept telling me I wasn’t. Although I was doing what I loved, taking a break only to have my older daughter, I kept hearing “you’re not good enough.”
With my daughter, I was told the same. Especially trying to return to photography work part time, while raising her. In addition to the professional degradation now it was getting personal, and I was getting gaslighted – something that happens all to frequently to women, regardless of the situation. Things were falling apart, and there’s a long story as to the epiphany, but suddenly I realized, I’d lost myself along the way.
About six months ago, I read this quote by Isak Dinesen. “The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea.”
I believe that is true. Lord knows I’ve shed a lot of tears in the past couple years. There’s been some sweat, and elbow grease too. When I get to the sea, everything is better.
And that, my dears, is how we arrived here. After writing a guest blog, and getting into discussions on politics, I found my mojo again — or a reasonable spark of it. While some things in my life are still in flux and beyond my control right now, this is something I can control. I can do this. I can dip my toes back in the writing water.
There will be some serious blogs that could lead to tears, and some that will make you cry from laughter. So stay tuned. I promise not all posts will be this self-indulgent or reflective.